Benny Andrews

  • <p>Print of a person holding their hands together on a countertop with fruit behind them.</p>

Benny Andrews

Woman, 1977
26 x 20 in.
Purchased from President's Discretionary Fund

Location: Hayden Memorial Library (Building 14S-100)

Born in rural Georgia during the Jim Crow era, painter, activist, and educator Benny Andrews learned draughting skills from his father and later studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There, he developed a signature technique that incorporated found fabric and paper into his figurative oil paintings, furnishing his expressive canvases with elements from his everyday environment.

Portraiture was central to Andrews’s practice and can be seen in his tender depictions of family members, friends, or fellow artists Alice Neel, Howardena Pindell, and Ray Johnson. In the late 1970s, Andrews staged a two-part exhibition of portraits at the Lerner-Heller Gallery titled Women I’ve Known, which presented a group of paintings that, as the artist wrote, “come from my close association with women I have known, real and imagined.” With hands folded on a kitchen table near a plate of fruit and a serious countenance, the unnamed figure in this intaglio etching from 1977, is likely related to this body of work. In celebrating his female peers in these works, Andrews acknowledged that beginning in art school he’d observed, “women were the most involved with the things we call ‘art,’ and yet the least respected.”

Accession Number: CNS.1978.002